Adobe hopes to have massive AIR installbase by early 2009

There seems to be two different schools for programming these days -- massive firms like Microsoft heavily invest in desktop computing with Windows and Office. On the other hand, you have Google and its web-based products like Google Docs that seek to put applications online for users to access anywhere.

Adobe feels that the best bet is to embrace both desktop and cloud computing and is shifting development of its software to favor both environments. The downside of being well rounded is that specialized software may work better, despite that Adobe is pressing on with a middle of the road orientation. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch told CNET News, "It's a balance of the client and cloud together that makes for the most effective applications and the best development."

Lynch plans to speak during his keynote at the Adobe Max conference about the firms plans to meet the needs of both computing environments. A key technology that will be talked about at the conference is Flash, the technology that drove Adobe to acquire Macromedia. Adobe continually works on Flash to keep it in its spot as one of the standards in web based video delivery. A similar product from Adobe called AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) will also be a topic at the conference.

Adobe says that Flash and AIR are the technology keys to allowing it to bridge the cloud and PC computing gap and allow it to walk the line between the two platforms. Flash allows Adobe to offer its service that allows the uploading and editing of photos from users. Adobe says that Flash runs the editing software on the user's computer not adobe servers allowing for much less cost to Adobe and better performance for the user. Lynch says, "Our operational costs for hosting that application are much lower than if we had server-side processing."

AIR is what Adobe hopes to use as a type of runtime foundation for housing applications. AIR runs Flash applications and has a built-in engine for showing web pages and running programs written in JavaScript. AIR is available for several operating systems including Mac, Windows, and Linux, which will allow developers to write code once and run it on multiple platforms.

The latest release for AIR is version 1.5, which uses Flash 10. The combination adds 3D graphics, better text handling, the ability to mix different audio signals, and other capabilities that make it a better platform. The biggest problem facing AIR is that it's not widely installed on computers at this time.

Without a wide installation base, developers are not keen on spending time developing applications to run on AIR. At the same time computer, users aren’t likely to install AIR if there are no applications that use it. This leaves both sides in a lurch.

CNET News reports AIR applications are spreading, one of which is an eBay auction management system that has already been downloaded a million times. Media players form companies including Adobe, Fox, and Atlantic Records are also being downloaded that run on AIR.

Adobe says that its goal for AIR is to have the software running on 100 million machines by the first anniversary of the 1.0 release in February 2008. Certainly, a heady deadline considering that anniversary is only a few months away.

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